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Oxfam: Welfare reform has pushed over a million households into greater poverty

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Oxfam: Welfare reform has pushed over a million households into greater poverty

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Finance

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Oxfam has warned that 1.75 million households have seen their finances tumble in the wake of the government's welfare reforms.

A report by the charity and the New Policy Institute reveals that the Tory-led coalition's slashing of benefit entitlements has come at a time when prices are rising.

Oxfam says that this has resulted in job seekers, carers, single parents and those with a disability or illness who are unable to work being pushed deeper into poverty.

The report reveals that 300,000 British households have seen a cut in housing benefit, 920,000 have seen a cut in council tax support and 480,000 have seen a cut in both.

In the last year alone, 400,000 households have been pushed further into poverty by cuts to housing benefit or council tax support. Households affected by both cuts typically lose around £18 per week, according to Oxfam's report.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam's chief executive, said: "This is the latest evidence of a perfect storm blowing massive holes in the safety net which is supposed to stop people falling further into poverty.

"We are already seeing people turning to food banks and struggling with rent, council tax, childcare and travel costs to job centres. At a time when the five richest families in the UK have the same wealth as the bottom 20 percent of the population it is unacceptable that the poorest are paying such a heavy price."

Oxfam is now calling on the government to determine what the absolute minimum level of support should be for households in different circumstances.

The charity says that it must be high enough to mean that those reliant upon it are not forced to walk the breadline.

Tom MacInnes, research director at NPI and the report's author, said: "There are two parts to the safety net. One is the means-tested cash benefit such as jobseeker's allowance, which is rising by less than prices. The other is the benefits that help pay for specific unavoidable costs. This is where cuts have been targeted and where the greatest damage to the safety net is being done."

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